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Side Effects of Astral Bleed-Through

I don’t know if my experiences are considered “normal”, but I’ve found over the years that it’s really only a matter of time before your astral life starts to bleed over into your day-to-day life. In many ways, I expected it, as you’re essentially immersing yourself into a separate culture, and creating something of a second life that you live. Though I suppose how much this second life effects you will largely depend upon how much time you spend traveling, and how different the world that you fall into Over There is from over here.

For me, the process of bleed-through hasn’t been exactly linear, but it’s definitely occurred. At first it was relatively small things, and they were things that I either expected (such as problems coping with traumatic experiences, or the inevitable learning curve that comes with astral work) or purposefully worked to pull into my life (such as changing my clothing or buying new items that remind me of my family, etc.)

But then it started to get worse, this bleed-through. I started having issues with not saying “oh where I come from, we do this” because I knew that if I did, someone would want to know where exactly it was that I came from, and I wouldn’t have an answer for them. And then I found that my accent from Over There started to show up more and more over here, which I constantly have to battle now. And then it became things like saying words that belong to a language that I don’t even have a name for. As I caught the words in my throat, I anticipated having others ask me “oh what language is that”, and the resulting embarrassment of going “I have no clue :)”. The more bleed-through I began to experience, the less control I had over it.

And then I noticed a lot of my fundamentals began to change.

The more work I did in the astral, the more people I met, the more my ingrained views were challenged and scrutinized. The more experiences I had, the more I was forced to question how things are done here, and whether those methods are truly for the best. I found that we readily accept a lot of things as truths, as being “the only way” of doing something, but when you get far far away from home, you find that there are actually many ways to do things. And sometimes the way you know best isn’t necessarily the best way.

I found that my ideas about ethics for things began to shift and morph as I learned about other places. I found that my distaste for certain things went down in some ways, but went up in others. I found that I became more and more frustrated about the limitations of this planet that we live on. I found that my new methods of approaching things might not make other humans thrilled or happy.

I found that through the act of traveling, parts of myself had begun to change. The me from Over There was really beginning to bleed into the me that is over here, and I was left figuring out how to reconcile the two. Or more accurately, I was left figuring out how to reconcile living in this world with the new knowledge I had gained from traveling.

This opened up an interesting dichotomy for me. On one hand, it’s readily accepted and acknowledged that entities that live Over There might operate differently than humans. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen people mention that gods might behave differently than us because their ethical structures are different than ours. I’ve seen the same said about fae as well. It’s more or less accepted knowledge that entities that don’t live here don’t always behave in ways that we expect or would prefer. And the sentiments that usually accompany this thinking is that we shouldn’t try and change their methodologies just because they’re foreign to us.

But on the other hand, what about the people who consistently work with these beings? How long can we expect practitioners to rub elbows with entities who aren’t from here before they start to act more like the beings that they’re rubbing elbows with? What of the bleed-through that spirit workers will (likely) inevitably experience? How should spirit workers and/or astral travelers be expected to handle such bleed-through? What about situations where a spirit worker’s actions grate against their own morals and ethics (because sometimes you are not in control of yourself when you are traveling), how do they cope with the gap between the two? What are our collective expectations for such situations?

This is especially important because there is a lot of double-bind logic going on within the pagan community. Based off of what I’ve read, a lot of people would tell you that you shouldn’t go into someone else’s culture and try to change it. In that respect, we should respect that the gods do things differently than we do and that we shouldn’t push our human methods onto non-humans. Makes sense and seems respectful, right?

But then on the other hand, if a spirit worker has picked up traits from Over There that belong to that culture, but clash with our more human mentalities–what then? If you’re not supposed to change the astral culture you live in, you’ll be forced to more or less assimilate into the culture in order to get along, fit in, and get work done. But you’re also not allowed to bring it over here because it’s foreign or weird or is considered immoral by humans–what do you do? Currently, the answer seems to be that you shift your mindset from here to There and back again as you travel, but is that causing harm to the spirit worker’s health? Are there better methods to doing this? We won’t ever know unless we can openly discuss such things.

Speaking purely for myself, I have kept most of my bleed-through entirely to myself. I don’t talk about it publicly very much, and I’ve found that I’m able to keep a lot of the shifts and changes I’ve experienced to myself. I’ve learned to split my brain apart even more, to remind myself that “when you’re here, you do X, and when you’re there, you do Y” so as to not make anyone uncomfortable or weirded out. But just like with anything that lives in a closet or compartment, there are always days when it’s harder to keep such things hidden. There are days when I’d like to openly discuss some of the weirdness I’ve picked up along the way, with the hope that maybe I can network with others and learn from them about how they cope with maintaining separate mentalities for here vs. There.

Bleed-through was completely expected, but the way in which it’s manifested has taken me by surprise (at least a little bit). I’d certainly love to hear if other spirit workers have experienced bleed-through or shifts in their life because of what they’ve picked up while traveling or working with spirits. And if you do experience such things, how you cope with them or handle them.

 

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Devo’s Burninatin’ Celebration: 2016 Edition

If I could sum up this year’s Wep Ronpet in a succinct phrase, it would be “the year Devo went it alone.”

When it comes to Wep Ronpet, I usually have direction or a process to inform you guys about. As I mentioned last year, Wep Ronpet is becoming less about Epagomenal days, and more about ‘burn things for Set’. Usually, he shows up in late June, and we go over at least a semblance of a plan for how I’m supposed to perform the year’s execration. He gives me an initial layout of the process I’ll follow so that I know what to write in my invitation to participate, and we discuss any general goals or things I need to accomplish before the day of the rite.

This year didn’t really happen that way.

I got the default notification in mid-June about how I needed to start planning for this year’s rites. It felt very automated, like Set programmed it into his phone, and his phone shot out the reminder at it’s pre-determined time. Because of that, I couldn’t really ask him what he wanted me to do, or what I needed to do. What made this worse is that astrally, I was in a lockdown mode and couldn’t leave to go ask him (more on that in the coming weeks.) And I didn’t seem to be able to get ahold of him from this end either.

The closest thing I could get from him was confirmation (of the barest sort) that I could perform the community heka that secondgenerationimmigrant had suggested, but beyond that I was on my own.

Usually I relish in figuring out what we’re going to be doing for Wep Ronpet. I love learning about how the various concepts that I work on throughout the year with the gods will double in on itself and form new concepts and ideas for me to mull on. With each passing year, the Mysteries and Wep Ronpet execrations further my understanding of my gods and my practice. It’s during these key moments that a lot of what I’ve picked up along the way starts to make sense and become more tangibly applicable to various things.

So I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to come up with anything neat or cool, but at the same time, the only thing Set said to me during this years’ rites (“you’ve been working too hard”) really sums up everything that the past two years have entailed.

Most people don’t really know this, I think, but I’ve been this side of fallow since Wep Ronpet of 2014. It was during 2014’s rites that Set talked about initiation for the first time, and shortly after that, I was barred from entering the Duat, cut off from a lot of my astral life, and by the time the end of 2014 hit, my job had consumed most of my life. If you’ve been with TTR for a while, you’ve probably noticed the stark drop off in posts and writing. That is largely why.

This is further complicated by last year’s surgery, which ate up most of my memories from 2015. For example, I have a hard time remembering what I did for 2015. I vaguely remember it, but I keep confusing it with 2014’s rites. Why? Because anesthesia eats your short-term memory. I don’t really remember 2015. I remember working and being stressed and being depressed. But on the by and large, I’ve lost an entire year of my life in terms of memory.

I’m just barely coming out of this rut. Barely. Just. Not even fully out of it yet. Barely.

And as such, this year’s rites took a hit, I think, because of that. I’m currently working two jobs while trying to get my sanity back together, and I didn’t really have the time or energy to think super duper hard about what I was going to do for this year’s rites (sorry, Set). I knew I wanted needed to do them, but I wasn’t going to exert a lot of energy figuring out how.

WR_shrine

The Pot of Unrest from last year came back again this year as a holding pot for everyone’s petitions. It sat in front of the Shrine and was guarded by Set’s knife. I placed petitions into it regularly as they flowed into my inbox, and made sure to leave offerings as a means to cajole Set to come back around and check out what had been added (I don’t think it worked.)

I kept the writing structure the same as last year, where I wrote what was going to be destroyed, and then often followed it up with a positive result of having said things destroyed. But in addition to that, I decided to try adding sigils to everyone’s petitions. That way, I could send the sigil to the person as a sort of proof that their petition had been processed and added to the pot. But even more than that, it would provide a link btwn the petitioner and their petition, so that they could take an active role in the process if they wanted.

It was an attempt to help make the ritual more personalized to those who are far away. A means to invite them into the process, to play a role in their own fates and futures (since execrations can help with both) because they could use the sigil as a means to funnel energy into the petition to be destroyed, or they could perform their own execration on something marked with the same sigil, which would be an additional oomph to what I was doing. I liked the idea in concept, but in practice it was challenging. Having to have my phone charged and with me when I was processing requests was difficult. The additional steps of having to take the photo, transfer it to the computer and then email it right away so that I didn’t accidentally send the wrong sigil to the wrong person was time consuming in a way that I wasn’t fully considering when I came up with the idea. I think that maybe if I wasn’t so strapped for time, it wouldn’t have been such a problem. But given the specifics of my current situation, it might have been a poor choice for this year.

What I did learn from the process is that I can make sigils very easily, and that my astral culture (if you will) has had a heavy influence on how I draw sigils now. I also learned that there needs to be better resources for those who aren’t sure how to write execration petitions (now on my to-do list), and that wow our community has gotten so much larger than it used to be. There was more hum about Wep Ronpet this year than I’ve ever seen before. That’s awesome.

pre-rite_shrine_WR

I usually set my shrine up pretty early before Wep Ronpet actually shows up. But this year, I hadn’t even fully set the ritual space up the morning of the rites. In fact, the day before the rites, I was still hemming and hawing about what I was going to offer, what I should do for the shrine setup, and what I should do for the rites themselves. I literally had not planned or prepped anything before the ritual itself (outside of the sigil on the petition thing, that’s the only pre-planning I did. Oh yeah, and fire. I knew there would be fire.)

The night before the ritual I was able to talk with Set for a very short amount of time. We went over what had been going on with the community and I gave him a status update of what needed to be addressed, what we needed to be prepping for and planning for, as well as other trends I had been noticing while out and about. I wanted to talk with him about what I needed to be doing, or what I should be planning for in terms of finishing some projects that I have put off for some time now, but he brushed me off and told me that we’d talk about it later.

Later still hasn’t happened, by the way.

The day of the rite, I slowly pulled everything together and hoped that I had gotten everything that I needed. As I sat down with my copy of Eternal Egypt, I still wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to be doing, but I trusted in my ability to pull it out of my ass like a pro.

The ritual this year was of a very different structure than normal. I noted last year that the rites felt more “big picture” than the year prior, and I feel like I expanded upon that even more so this year. I utilized the full Set rite that was in Eternal Egypt, more or less, and then placed all of the execration petitions into the execration pot while performing additional verbal heka. I then sat down and read the words that were written in the community heka, framing it as everyone’s requests to a council of NTRW, asking that they consider our words, and helping aid us in our requests. I then finished tearing up and burning the execration petitions and closed the ritual in the typical fashion as is laid out in most of the rites in Eternal Egypt.

WR_closeup2

I had brought my music thinking that I’d want to use it to help with the execrations, but it wasn’t needed. This year’s ritual would count as fully formal, in my opinion, as it was very by the books and very solemn (and emotional, apparently.) While I couldn’t see or hear Set (except for the one phrase), I could feel him around. I felt like more than Set was watching, but I couldn’t tell who. In the end, I may end up making a fully formal rite the new norm as I move forward, but we’ll see how things progress in time for next year.

I found that as I read through the formal words that I had an even better understanding of them than when I first read them so many years ago. I’ve always liked the words of formal rites, they’ve always resonated with me, but I don’t think I had a solid understanding of the depth of what I was reading in the past. I feel like I’m starting to get a better understanding and appreciation of the multiple layers that exist within a formal rite and its wording.

By the time the rites were done, I was completely exhausted in a way that is not normal for me. I’m not sure what exactly I had done that caused me to feel so absolutely drained, but it was all I could do not to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling for the rest of the day. While the rites were not typical for me, I think that they were fulfilling, albeit in a way that is hard to describe. Even though it was the year I went it alone (and rushed and unprepared), I feel like it was successful, though I’d prefer to have more energy and time to prepare for rites in the future.

execration_pot

I found that even though I had more or less gone it alone, that a lot of the motifs from last year still held true for this year. Notions about how letting things go isn’t easy, and how we need to be open to the changes required in order to make our requests truly manifest. And it is my hope that everyone that sent in a petition is presented with opportunities to have their petitions fulfilled, and in ways that exceed their expectations. May we all be open to the changes that we need, so that we may succeed in the coming year.

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Posted by on August 8, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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The Evolution of Mental Illness

I was recently participating in a discussion on Facebook about the negative voices that live in our heads, and heka that can be done to keep them at bay. In the post that was sparking the discussion, the author suggests that giving the negative voices in our heads a name and a form can help us to sit down and discuss things with them. It allows us to interact with parts of ourselves so that we can learn more about who we are, and more importantly, what causes some of these voices to speak up as they do. The long-term goal, as far as I could tell, was that by conversing with these voices, you’d hear less from them in time.

This got me thinking about the voices that pop up in my own head. Of course, I’m not talking about the voice of the gods or spirits that I work with. I’m talking about the voices that often tell me that I suck, or that remind me that I’m not doing as much as I’d like (often stated as “not doing as much as I should“). I’m talking about negative voices that often come with mental illness.

The more I began to mull over what those voices that embody my mental illness try to tell me is the “proper” reality that I live in, the more it really hit home that conversing with my internal voices probably wouldn’t do much for me. Why? Because I’ve found over the years that my mental illness evolves. You see, when I was younger, those voices would still tell me that I suck, but they’d use different reasons to showcase why it is that I suck. For example, when I was younger, I was a lot more isolated from other people, and I was frequently wracked with loneliness. So my voices would remind me about how no one really liked me, and how I could very easily just disappear and no one would notice, and I believed what my mental illness told me because I had nothing to prove them wrong. But now that I’ve worked through some of that baggage? It’s no longer used against me. If my voices want to bring me down, they know that that angle won’t work anymore, and so they choose a different soft point to poke at (such as “this particular person doesn’t like you and never will because you suck” etc.)

This is probably even remotely possible for me to detect on my end because of the shadow work that I’ve done over the past several years. I feel as though my trudging through life with all of my issues was a relatively plateaued affair until I began to actively hack at it in my late twenties via shadow work. Or in other words, my mental illness could hit me in the same spots over and over again when I was younger because I wasn’t making leaps and bounds worth of changes in the mental illness arena. The same issues and concerns I had in late high school were relatively similar to the issues and concerns I had in my early twenties. It only really shifted once I began the shadow work process.

But this highlights for me one of the ultimate caveats to shadow work that doesn’t seem to be spoken about enough–sometimes all the shadow work in the world won’t actually fix everything. I know I talked about this briefly in my post about shadow work being an ongoing process, but it really hit me hard when I realized that as I was beginning to learn how to outwit and overcome my mental illness, my mental illness was evolving to learn how to outwit me.

A side effect of this is that the voices have changed their ‘sales pitch’ to fit whatever topic is the most damaging at any given point in time. Once upon a time, my anxiety and depression could get away with telling me just about anything, and I’d believe it. But now they both have to work a little harder by formatting their statements a certain way in order for me to listen.

This probably sounds like an improvement, and in some ways it is. Due to the work I’ve put in, I can now shrug off certain statements that my brain will fling at me, and certain topics are relatively harmless to my mental health (in comparison to before). But don’t get me wrong–just because these mental illnesses seem to have to work a little harder to figure out what to tell me to get me to sink doesn’t mean that it’s still not effective. Nearly two years of being in mental illness hell is proof that these illnesses are very much in full swing and are effective at crippling me when they want to.

Another way to possibly illustrate it is to compare it to holes in a boat. If I have a boat that has a large hole in the bottom, there is no getting away from the fact that that sucks. Boats with holes don’t float very well. But let’s say that I learn how to somewhat patch this hole up, and now I have two smaller holes instead of one large one–some might consider that an improvement, but my boat still has holes in it. And that’s how I feel when I look at how my mental illness has shifted over the years. In some ways it’s an improvement, but I still have to live with mental illness. And that mental illness is still damned effective at doing what it does despite all of my best efforts.

The biggest point I really wanted to emphasize here is that shadow work will only do so much. Not many of us emphasize it enough, but there is no getting away from that fact: shadow work, therapy, all of these things that we use to try and heal ourselves from our trauma–they only go so far for some things. All of the shadow work in the world won’t erase mental illness, nor will it fix everything. You can definitely wage war against mental illness and push it back a bit, but just like isfet, it is always there lurking at the corners of ones mind. Just like with the gods working to maintain ma’at, the work we put in to stay as healthy as possible with mental illness is a non-stop, never-ending process.

And similarly, if you find that you’ve been working for years trying to get headway with your mental illness, but find that you’re still only treading water, please know this: you’re not alone. Fighting against mental illness is hard and it’s a non-stop battle, and you’re not less for not being able to squash your mental illness down entirely. While so much of the world seems to want to imply that you can somehow teach your mental illness a thing, and make it so that it no longer effects you, that’s simply not true (and honestly smacks against the fact that it’s an illness). And if my experiences are any indication at all, as you improve at waging war against your illness, your illness could get more adept at waging war against you.

Because I haven’t said it enough, remember that shadow work is a tool in your toolbox, and the same way that a hammer doesn’t work that great for putting screws into something, sometimes shadow work isn’t the right tool for the job. Sometimes you’ll do your shadow work exactly as you’re supposed to, and you’ll still come out not completely healed. This isn’t necessarily your fault, but is the nature of living in imperfect bodies that are often riddled with illness. You’re not bad for not being able to fix an incurable illness. You’re not bad for not being able to “magic” such things away. And don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Have you found that shadow work only goes so far with mental illness? How do you combat this? Have you found that your illness has evolved or changed it’s “angle of attack” over the years?

 

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The Internet Lacks Object Permanence

Over the years of interacting with people over the Internet, I’ve noticed that many people online seem to lack some amount of object permanence when it comes to other Internet users. Now, this isn’t object permanence in the strictest sense, obviously. I’m fairly certain that most of us have the ability to “understand that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way)”. But just because we get it on a superficial level doesn’t mean that it’s actually being absorbed and utilized on a deeper level.

Object permanence: what it is, and how I’m relating it to religion

For those of you who have never heard of the concept of object permanence, it’s basically the concept that you understand that things exist, even if you can’t see or experience  them directly. It’s something that most people develop when they’re still a toddler (there are some exceptions to this, as some disorders involve having difficulty with object permanence), and so most of you reading this probably do understand that when I place a cup in the cabinet and close the door, the cup still exists inside of the cabinet, even if you can’t see it. Your inability to experience this cup directly doesn’t make it suddenly vanish from existence.

You’d think that a group of people who spends a lot of time talking about entities that none of us can touch or see in the physical sense would have a really firm grasp of object permanence. In many ways, our entire religious experience is a drawn-out exercise in object permanence. We can’t necessarily experience our gods directly (as in: we can’t touch them, see them, or talk with them the way that we would a human), and so nearly everything that we do requires utilizing object permanence in order to be effective or successful in what we’re doing as practitioners.

However, it seems that many of us have a blind spot in our object permanence: other practices and how they are presented on the Internet by co-religionists. I think that objectively we understand that many of us aren’t talking about the entirety of our practices online, but it seems that many of us forget that on the regular. It seems that for a large portion of Internet users, if you’re not actively talking about it or posting about it, it doesn’t exist.

To use my cup and cabinet metaphor above, if I decide to keep part of my practice (the cup) in the cabinet because I don’t wish to share it with you (aka: I don’t post about it online), then a lot of people assume that the parts of my practice that are in the cabinet (the parts of my practice that I don’t openly discuss) don’t exist.

Or in other words, because I haven’t dredged up every aspect of my practice and put it on display for you, I’m obviously not doing those things ever, and those “missing” parts of my practice don’t exist.

Building roadblocks out of assumptions

This habit can be very damaging on multiple levels. First of all, it can create a very hostile environment where practitioners may use their assumptions (aka: assuming the cup stops existing because it’s in the cabinet) to berate or chastise other practitioners. This seems to manifest in a lot of ways, but the most common that I’ve seen is that people assume that because everyone only posts funny, lighthearted or “fluffy” stuff online, that none of them is actually serious in their religion or practice. This then bleeds into the belief that others aren’t historically driven enough, serious enough, or legitimate enough because they’re not seeing the “proper markers” to assume that someone isn’t making a joke of this very serious business known as religion.

These assumptions can then create a toxic environment where co-religionists have to worry about appearing “legitimate” enough to their peers in order to be taken seriously or given respect. Some members may feel pressured to over emphasize the “real” parts of their practice so that their peers will give them the time of day. Conversely, others may feel that they need to hide the “less legitimate” portions of their practice, or even stop talking or participating all together because of the pressure to meet this unstated standard of perfection that these assumptions have created for the community.

And as can be seen and witnessed in multiple communities right now, this dichotomy of “good enough” and “not good enough” creates a very large divide within a religion. It creates a divide between those who are deemed as legitimate and those who are not. You are either serious and follow a set protocol, or you are a pleeb who is “ruining our religion” and “disrespecting the gods” because we’re making assumptions about what your practice consists of based off of what you say online. The fact that you may go away from your computer where you’ve just posted 10 sparkly NTR gifs for funsies and are about to do a 3 hour long ritual means nothing if you’re not posting it online.

Destroying roadblocks by destroying our assumptions

To be honest, every time I see an instance of someone forgetting that people don’t display every aspect of themselves or their religious practice online, I get very sad. To me, it seems like such a waste to spend all of our time comparing practices and telling others that they’re doing it wrong because they don’t meet our own personal criteria for what makes a practice “correct.” It’s one thing if a community member is being problematic or hurting others with their practices, but honestly, if no one is being hurt by what they’re doing, why do we make such a big deal out of it? Why are so many of us more interested in judging how others practice or worship than tending to our own business?

I think the only way to actively work against the lack of object permanence that exists in our online communities is to actively work against our own assumptions that we make. Each of us makes assumptions about what others are doing or not doing, about how legitimate their experiences are or aren’t, and about how serious they may or may not be about their religious practice. We all do it, it’s part of human nature.

What’s important is to actively work against those assumptions, though. Even if you start to assume that someone has something wrong, maybe take a step back and ask yourself if it really matters. Does it really matter that someone sees a god with pink hair? Does it really matter that they’re offering to the gods in plastic solo cups? Does it really matter that people are joking about a god’s butt?

It’s a lot like the yardstick of dickery: is what is being said or done actually hurting anyone, or is it just bugging me? Is there any actual benefit from me saying something?

If the answer to both of these is no, then there isn’t really any need to get upset over it. And it’s important to remember that what we’re seeing online is not the totality of anyone’s practice. Just because someone might appear to be practicing one way online doesn’t mean that that is all that their practice consists of.

And as I’ve said a million times before, if the behaviour is truly damaging to the gods, we should learn to trust that the gods will handle it in their own time using their own methods.

Learning to work together with something as personal and important as religion can be challenging, but the sooner we learn to ease up on our assumptions, the better off things will get. Learning to remember that no one shows every aspect of their practice online is important, as is remembering that different deity-devotee relationships can take different forms. The more that we can work to find common ground between different methods of practice within Kemeticism, the better off our entire community will be.

Do you have issues with assuming too much about others’ practices based off of what they showcase online? Have you ever assumed something about a practitioner’s practice, only to have that assumption proved wrong later on? How do you stop yourself from assuming too much about your co-religionists?

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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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A Shrine for Traveling

I love boxes. Boxes are so useful for holding things ever-so-nicely, and they look nice when they’re all stacked up neatly. I have so many decorative boxes laying around my house just waiting for the right stuff to be placed in them. Some might say that I have a problem, but seriously. I love boxes.

I have been holding onto a box for a long time now. For those of you have been hanging around TTR for a while probably recognize this box. It appeared in my Wep Ronpet 2014 photos, and that’s just how long I’ve been holding onto this box, waiting to give it its purpose.

Travel_shrine_closed

Unlike a lot of my other boxes, I knew exactly what stuff I wanted to put inside of it, but I was waiting for the spoons to make it happen. As soon as my SO had removed his headphones from this Beats box, I knew that I wanted to turn it into a travel shrine due to its size and obscurity. I just needed to find the energy to put it together.

Originally, I wanted to make a custom image to go inside of this box. I was going to create a scene where these shrine boxes would be painted on the back of the interior, and then I was going to have offering tables on either side of each god’s shrine, and then possibly cap everything off with images of stars, the sky, and the Nun. As pretty and nice as it sounded, two years in waiting, I never once managed to sit down and make it happen.

A few weeks ago I was at a craft store for something else, and I noticed this really nice geometric paper. It looked pretty and struck me as something that could go inside of my travel shrine box. Since I wasn’t getting around to actually making the art that was supposed to go inside, and I couldn’t tell when I’d actually have the energy or desire to make said art, I thought that this paper might be a nice work around. It’s shiny and pretty and looks expensive, so it’ll totally work, right?

Travel_shrine_Open_002

I’m actually fairly happy that I didn’t do the artwork that I wanted for this shrine piece. Originally, I had wanted to orient the box to be on it’s side, so that the “wing” you see hanging out on the left in the picture above would actually have been laying flat on the ground, with the drawer being beneath the gods, as opposed to being on the left side. However, I ended up making the drawer a little too tall, and Osiris’ statue didn’t fit in ideally in the original orientation, so I decided to flip things on their side (literally). If I had put all of the effort into the artwork, it would have been a very sad day when I went to put the statues in, and found that they didn’t fit.

The gold back plate is made of nothing but paper that has been cut down to the proper size, and formed into a box. I haven’t permanently adhered it to the interior of the box, as it seems to stay in place fairly well all on its own. The drawer is made similarly- of paper that has been cut down to the proper size and shaped into a box. Originally, this box had a divider that was fairly central, but I trimmed down the edges in order to create the space that you see for the drawer. If I wanted, I could have removed the divider entirely, and utilized the entirety of the interior of the box.

Travel_shrine_Open_005

When you first open this travel shrine, you’ll notice that it doesn’t look like much of anything. I kept the original headphone holder as a sort of “cap” to place on top of the shrine before I close it. That way, all of the contents are very secure inside, and if someone gets nosy and opens it, they might get disinterested and not bother to look beneath the cap.

Once you remove the cap, you can see that I have fabric in place to keep my statues safe during transit. On the left, I have placed a portable offering tray and ritual rubric inside of the black sleeve. I also have enough room that I could easily put a book of matches, incense, amulets, or other relatively narrow items inside.

Travel_shrine_Open_003

Shrine when it’s set up.

To the left of the gods’ naos, I have a drawer where I have stored incense, natron, and some votive offerings. It’s very likely that when I’m out traveling, I’m going to offer actual food and water on actual dishes, but I thought it would be nice to have votive offerings to keep the gods fed while the shrine isn’t in use. Plus, if I ever happen to be in a situation where I don’t have access to these things, I will have backups in place. You can also see in the picture above the small rubric that I’ve made.

Close-up of drawer and its contents

Close-up of drawer and its contents

Originally I had wanted to write the offering formula on the drawer, so that way it would relate to the offerings inside. However, I wasn’t sure about the translations that I was finding, and I was doubly not sure about being able to fit an entire offering formula on the front of such a small drawer. So instead I decided to place ma’at feathers on the front. That way the gods are getting their daily dose of ma’at as well.

Some of the other perks of this setup is that I can easily remove the golden back plate and swap it out for something else if I felt like it. That means that one day, I could actually make the art in the correct proportions, and put that in place if I ever got the spoons to do so. I could also write heka and place it behind the back plate, if I wanted. I could also decorate the outside of the box to include more protective heka, but in this case I’d rather leave the box unassuming in appearance. That way no one gets the inkling to explore its contents. I think that this setup could easily work for a full time shrine on the DL, if you wanted. It would be small, but it would be very discreet.

Travel_shrine_Open

I’m super happy to finally have a travel shrine that is more formal than what I’ve used in the past. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting to make, but I think it’s turned out nice all the same.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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Perfect

Perfection is a tricky thing. When used in moderation, it can drive us to do better and become better. When used poorly, it can cause us stress and create problems in our lives. I think that most of us understand that perfection is nearly impossible to achieve, and yet many of us spend our entire lives trying to get as close to perfect as possible. I think that’s understandable in a way. We’re taught very early on that perfection is an ideal, and that anything less means that we’re doing something wrong, that we’re mediocre, or that we’ll never be good enough. We’re taught to fear the alternative to perfection, and in some ways, we’re taught that being anything less than your best at all times means you’re a failure.

I also think that many people want to be as close to perfect as possible because we believe that when everything is perfect, we’ll be happier. Everything would be better, and everything would be smoother and easier. The problem with this lies in the fourth sentence in the paragraph above: perfection is impossible to achieve. Especially for long periods of time. We’re flawed beings doing our best to make things work. Imperfection is really an inherent trait of humanity whether we like it or not.

Within our larger society, it’s being shown that the need to be perfect is ruining a lot of lives. It can create unhealthy attitudes towards ourselves and towards others. But what about in our smaller communities? How does perfection play into how we interact with our fellow co-religionists?

I’ve found myself mulling on this a lot recently. There has been a lot of activity within the community as to how people think one should act vs. how people have been acting. There have been disagreements about what should be our standard protocol for behaviour, and in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s a reasonable conversation to have, especially considering how close action and ma’at feed into one another. Being a predominantly orthopraxic religion means that actions speak louder than beliefs, and in order to do our best to live in ma’at, we need to be reflective on what actions are best for ourselves and the community. However, in some instances, I have found myself thinking that people expect too much out of their fellows and peers and expect too little of themselves. It’s very easy to get caught up in what you feel others “should” be doing and too easy to forget that we all make mistakes. As my grandmother used to tell me: “When you point your finger at someone, remember that there are three fingers pointing back at yourself”.

In that spirit, I might be able to make the argument that ma’at and perfection can be seen as being one and the same in a lot of ways. Ma’at is the ideal state of being/acting/doing in Kemeticism. We all strive to behave and act in ma’at and to lace ma’at into everything that we do. However, I’m pretty sure most of us would agree that we fail sometimes. Some of us fail a lot of the time. It’s all part of that being human thing I mentioned above. Like perfection, ma’at can be a useful tool. It can help us strive to become more, to become better. It can be something that enriches and fulfills our life as we learn how to weave it into our daily experiences. However, also like perfection, ma’at can be turned into a bludgeoning tool made to control and belittle others. It can be used to hurt people and make them feel like they are inadequate or that they are failures. This is particularly true when the two are married, and you suddenly see people uttering the words “you are not acting in ma’at” (or alternatively “your actions embody isfet”), which might as well be the same as “you are not hitting the level of perfection that I expect of you, and therefore you are a failure”.

This sort of culture can be incredibly damaging on so many levels. It teaches people that they can never make mistakes within the community without having to bear the stigma of having messed up. It teaches people that if they ever step out of line, they can expect a mob of people to come out and berate them. It teaches us that we have to become an almost fake and unrealistic form of ourselves in order to make people feel comfortable (which reinforces about every form of “ism” you can shake a stick at). Having a bad day? Better not go on the internet lest you make a faux pas. Find out that you made an error in a statement that you made? Good luck moving beyond that because you’re never going to remove that foot from your mouth because we won’t let you.

It makes it so that no one can really have any room to breath because they’re too worried about screwing up. In those instances, our religion becomes less about learning and growing, and more about fitting into a mold that has been laid out for us.

Perfectionism also extends beyond behaviours. There are many who seem to believe that there is a certain level or bar to hit with practices, too. If you’re not offering a certain way, you’re missing that bar of perfection and therefore a failure. If you’re not being historically accurate enough, you’re missing the bar. If you’re making too many jokes, you’re missing the bar. Or dare I say it? Not practicing and/or living in ma’at.

When used poorly, perfectionism stalls people’s growth and desire to try new things in their practice. What could be a warm and loving experience becomes something that is stifling and nerve-wracking. A lot of people come to our religion already afraid they’re going to mess up. Why do we make it worse on people by adding even more unrealistic expectations upon them? Why do we expect everyone to act exactly how we think they should? Why is it that only our personal bars and measures for success ever seem to matter? Why is it that it seems like so many people don’t have the capacity to understand that we are all learning and doing at our own speeds and paces, and doing so in our own ways? There isn’t only one way to do something or to be. Why can’t we learn to give some of our co-religionists some room to fumble around?

Now, with all of this being said, I want to emphasize here that there is an opposite end of this spectrum, too.

I think it goes without saying that I believe that we still have to have some level of standard of decorum within our communities. Not having any rules at all leaves people open and vulnerable to being attacked, abused or manipulated. So please do not take this post to mean that we shouldn’t have any rules at all. Much like with the ma’at comparison made above, it’s about balance and striking a middle ground between the members of our community. It’s about having enough structure to ensure that our members stay safe and aren’t subjected to bigotry or marginalization, but being open enough to allow people to practice freely and safely while interacting with the community. And of course, there are certain rules that I personally feel should be more important than others (such as rules that protect members and people over rules that protect the religious structure or preferences in practice), although others may feel differently.

In the end, I think that we all need to try and remember that none of us is perfect, and it’s unrealistic to expect perfection. We’re all doing the best that we can to try and manage our lives with our religious practices, and everything that is involved with both. We all start somewhere, and we all have our biases to overcome and learn from. And in that spirit, we should all be doing some self-reflection on our own imperfections, not just fussing over the imperfections of others.

How does perfection play into your community experience? Do you find that the pressure for perfection makes interactions difficult? Do you find yourself focusing too much on the imperfections of yourself or of others?

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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism

 

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Devoted without Devotion: Why?

I wrote a post last year about some of my revelations and experiences of devoting yourself to the gods even when you don’t feel a whole lot of emotion towards them. It’s one of my favorite posts, I think, because it really does sum up a lot of my experiences not only with the gods, but with life itself. Due to the broken structure of my brain, or perhaps it’s just my nature in general, I don’t base a lot of what I do off of my feelings, and ever since I wrote that post, I’ve become more and more okay with this. I have become okay with being devoted while not feeling the devotion (aka the love). In many ways, I wear it like a badge of honor that I have managed to continue to develop my relationship with the NTRW despite my emotions sometimes telling me to quit.

I am proud of the fact that I can see something through, even when that something becomes frustrating, difficult, or mundane.

Despite that pride in my acceptance of myself (and to an extent, my limitations), there seems to be an awful lot of confusion about why someone would bother to do work for the gods even though they don’t seem to love their gods (this, of course, is all dependent upon how you define love). When this came up on Tumblr (because it’s always Tumblr, amirite?), the confusion seemed to largely come from non-Kemetics. However, I think this is something worth talking about, so that maybe we can reach a better level of understanding about different methods and reasons for different practices styles. So in that spirit, I’m choosing to go a bit more in-depth about the misconceptions of what a somewhat “emotionless” relationship/practice might entail as well as the why behind the continued devotion despite the lack of feelings.

jobunenjoyable

“It’s a job, therefore you don’t like it”

I think one of the biggest points of confusion about my lack of love for my gods is the idea that viewing my work for them as a job, combined with a lack of perceived love for the entities I am doing the work for, inherently means I don’t like it. Now don’t get me wrong, there are days when I definitely don’t like doing this work. Days like when tumblr explodes because Kemetics were talking amongst themselves. Days like when I have to deal with drama within the community or on one of the boards I admin for. Days when people are being particularly mean to one another, or I see back-biting occurring.

Even in the best of jobs, relationships, and life–there will be bad days.

And due to having depression (and I’m in a fallow period that is coupled with a really bad stretch of depression right now, for context), there are often more days where I dislike doing the work than not. That doesn’t mean that I don’t always like the job, though. And calling something a job doesn’t necessarily mean that I dislike it, either. There are certainly people who love what they do for a living. Jobs and enjoyment aren’t mutually exclusive. You can call something a job, and still get enjoyment out of it. I just happen to be the kind of person who will take something more seriously if I call it a job. For me, calling something a job reflects how serious it is for me. It’s more than a hobby or something I do when I happen to have time. And that’s part of why I call it a job–because it keeps me serious about getting the work done.

Of course, that doesn’t answer why I continue to do the job despite it’s bad days. Unlike a bad day job, I don’t get paid for this, so I can’t cite that. Surely there has to be some reason, right? (the answer to that is yes, and I will get into that in a minute.)

whydoit_somanydevotees

“There are other people who can do the work”

Another misconception that I saw thrown around was that there are certainly other people who love the gods more, and surely they can do the work instead of a negative nancy like me, right?

Perhaps in other religious groups there are enough devotees to spread the work around (I disagree, but maybe I’m wrong), but Kemeticism is not one of those religions currently. As small as we still are now, there was a time when we were even smaller. In the time when I was first contacted by Set, there was very little to speak of in regards to an online Kemetic community. Nearly everything was KO driven, and there were only two small groups that existed outside of KO (Children of Kemet and eCauldron’s SIG). So the assumption that there is enough people doesn’t really work for our community.

To build off of that, even if there were enough people to spread the work around, it’s entirely possible that the gods might have felt I could do this particular job better than another person. I think that many times the gods hand us work based off of what we are good at doing, not necessarily what we want to do (which is why I didn’t get to be a priest, I assume). So to that end, it’s worth remembering that sometimes the gods don’t really care about what we want. They care that we get the work done.

There are also other factors including having enough time to get the job done, having the resources and tools to get the job done, beyond the basics of how effective you are at the job. In the mundane world, we say that love doesn’t pay the bills. In the Unseen, love can certainly be a useful tool or asset, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to get the job done that needs doing. I may not have a heart overflowing with love for my gods (though I think I might have once upon a time), but I certainly did get the work done.

And that is a sort of love, in a way, is it not?

whystay

And now we get to the part that everyone is actually interested in- the big fat “why” behind why weird ol’ me continues to do this work despite breaking the holiest of holy commandments, which is not loving my gods. This list is not exhaustive (I could probably give you a solid ten, but then this post would be really long), but I think highlights the top three reasons behind why I stick around.

Reason 1: I said I would

One of the first things you have to understand about me is that I place a lot of value in my promises and my word. I don’t sign up for projects and then drop them. I don’t start stuff and not finish it (although sometimes it can take a long time to finish a project, due to life getting in the way). And that is the same for this situation, too. Set found me, and told me that he wanted me to help build a thing (and later to do other things). I agreed to help because I was starstruck and naive.

However, just because I am less naive and a bit more jaded now doesn’t mean that I’m going to revoke my agreement. I said I would help with what he wanted to build, and I aim to see that through.

I recently saw someone say that devotion is a series of choices, and I have chosen to stick this out even when every part of me wants to quit.

Reason 2: It allows me to help people

One of the biggest things I love about the work that I do for Set is that it allows me to help people. While I may not always love Set, and I may not always love his methods, I do have a love for what his methods and direction have created. Yes, it sucks that a large portion of my life is spent dealing with drama. Yes, it sucks that I’ve made enemies along the way that I probably could have avoided otherwise. Yes, it sucks that there are days when I really want to be lazy, but instead need to get something done because he told me to.

But when I get anons telling me that my posts have helped them, all of that becomes worth it. When people tell me that I’ve made a difference in their life, that makes all of the hell worth it.

I once equated myself to a guinea pig for Set. That he would throw me in front of a bus so that I could document it and pass the information on to the rest of you so that you wouldn’t have to be hit by a bus like I was. I go into situations knowing this, and willingly doing it anyways because I know that it could help someone. For me, helping others is one of the main reasons I continue to stay alive. For someone who is a proud nihilist, one of the biggest achievements you can make in life is to help others–it’s the best way to leave a lasting impact that could persist beyond my short lifetime.

Set knows this, and he uses it to his advantage. I let him because it’s one of the only things I’m truly passionate about- helping people.

Reason 3: It serves a purpose (tw suicide mention)

Another reason for why I continue to serve despite not feeling the love sadly comes down to my survival. This isn’t the “woo” spirit worker kind of survival that you often hear about- where the spirit worker has to continue to do the work, lest the spirits kill them. Oh no, this is far more mundane.

What I mean by survival is that it often keeps me from contemplating ending my life.

Yes, there are several other things besides Kemeticism that I use as leverage to keep myself alive in a tough spot. But this whole community shtick is still a pretty hefty thing that I use on the regular. Having something to do with my time that I can convince myself as being bigger than myself, and therefore more important (see reason 2), often keeps me feeling like my life isn’t a complete waste of time. It gives me something to direct my energy at. It gives me something to work towards, even when I don’t feel like working towards anything except a 6 foot hole in the ground.

In that same vein, it’s worth bringing up that many of the people who chose to go after me for my lack of love for the gods seemingly ignored the ties that this has to depression. The implication was that if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t do it–especially if there are many other people who could possibly do it better, and be happier in the process. If I, a depressed person, took that attitude towards everything, I wouldn’t be alive. While I’m sure that there are readers who will disagree with me, in my opinion it’s not a far jump for someone who has problems with suicidal ideation to take that mindset and go “well I don’t love my life or myself, and there are other people who could fulfill the same job and functions that I do, so I should just call it quits.”

For those of us with damaged brain chemistry, listening to our brain every time it decides something isn’t worth doing can become a matter of life and death. This is also another reason why I don’t place so much emphasis on how I feel, because if I based everything off of my feelings, I’d likely not be here to type this out. Kemeticism and all of its trappings has helped me to not take drastic measures during low points in my life.

TL;DR:

So to sum up everything above (because creating a nice, succinct outro was not working):

  • There is nothing wrong with calling your devotion a job. There are several reasons why one may choose to do that, and those reasons may have little to nothing to do with their feelings (or lack thereof) towards the job or role they are fulfilling. Much like with “work with”, let’s quit attaching baggage to words.
  • You can still have a job that is fun. They are not mutually exclusive.
  • There isn’t always enough people to go around to fulfill a function. We should stop assuming that there are enough people to go around. I think there is a reason so many polytheists end up with 3893756 gods knocking on their door. It’s likely because they’re short-staffed.
  • Even in cases where there are enough people to fulfill a role, that doesn’t mean that those people are the best choice. Strong feelings, while nice, don’t instantly make you proficient at a job.
  • The number of devotees available to perform a job also doesn’t invalidate someone else trying to fulfill a role. You can still perform a job, function, or role well while not feeling super awesome about it (and to bring this into a mundane sphere, there is even a ruling that an employer can’t force you to be happy while performing your job, which should further reinforce this point), and the fact that others might be able to do the same stuff as you doesn’t make your actions any less valid. Another person’s success doesn’t inherently mean you’re a failure.
  • The reasons why I continue to stick around and perform my role for Set include:
    • I told him I would, aka I’m loyal
    • It helps me to fulfill some of my own personal ideals for a well-lived life (aka helping people, trying to leave a positive impact on the world around me)
    • It’s one more thing in my arsenal to use against my depression
    • It allows me to learn and grow as a person, while also fulfilling the above

Hopefully this helps to clear up some of the miscommunications that were occurring earlier this month. If anyone has questions, I am more than willing to clarify and explain a bit more about anything listed above.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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